How to Register a Kayak in Ohio

Every water vessel must be registered in Ohio, including kayaks. However, there are some exceptions – we’ll get to that later. Learning how to register a kayak in Ohio is easy, so long as you know where to look and what type of vessel you have.

Must You Register a Kayak in Ohio?

Ohio requires all kayaks to be registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This law applies to all boat types.

Floating kayaks, pedal boats, sailboats, canoes and powerboats are included. So, before heading out in your kayak, you must pay the registration fee and display the registration decal on your kayak.


A couple of exceptions apply to this law in Ohio. If you’re in Ohio for vacation and bring your kayak to Ohio from another country or state, you aren’t required to register your kayak in Ohio.

If you’re participating in kayaking competitions in Ohio and are ordinarily from another state, you don’t need to register your kayak. However, you and your kayak must not be in Ohio for longer than 60 days.

It’s worth noting that paddleboats, float tubes, sailboards, belly boats and kiteboards are exempt from the registration law in Ohio as well.

How to Register a Kayak in Ohio

If you have a kayak, hand/paddle-powered boat or canoe, you can register it with an Alternative Registration, which will allow you to have your kayak registered for three years.

However, if you’re going to be attaching any sort of sail or motor to your boat, you must register it as a Traditional Registration because your Alternative Registration will become invalid when you attach a sail or motor – even if it’s a temporary attachment.

The registration decal you receive must be attached to your boat so that authorities and other boaters can see it, either at the stern or bow. Our recommended place to display your registration decal on your kayak is on the stern right behind the cockpit.

You will also be required to carry around the registration paperwork on you when you’re out on the water.

How to Register a Kayak in Ohio
Source: Unsplash

Where to Register Your Kayak in Ohio

There are plenty of places you can visit in Ohio to register your kayak. You can do it with an Ohio DNR-approved watercraft boat registration agent or visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources office.

Once you register your kayak, the registration is valid for three years and expires on March 1st. You can easily renew your kayak registration in Ohio online using your Ohio boat number and PIN. You can find this information on your renewal notice.

All kayakers using Ohio waters must be registered and given an Ohio Registration Certificate issued by the Ohio Division of Parks & Watercraft.

How to Register a Kayak in Ohio: What You Need

  • Completed application form – you can download the form in advance and fill it out before going in
  • Registration fee payment
  • Proof of boat ownership (i.e., receipt)
  • Driver’s license or another official photo ID
  • Hull Identification Number

What Else Do You Need to Register Your Kayak in Ohio?

For every person in the kayak, a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is required, whether they will be paddling or not. Children under the age of 10, on any boating vessel under 18 feet long, must always wear a life jacket when on the water. The recommended type of life jacket is a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

You must have at least one Type IV floatation device on any boat under 18 feet long.

If you’re paddling anytime between sunset and sunrise, you are required to have a lantern or white light, so your vessel is visible to everyone else on the water in the dark. Additionally, you must carry around visual distress signals if you’re on Lake Erie during these hours.

If your boat is motorized, there may be additional requirements for safety equipment.

How to Register a Kayak in Ohio
Source: Unsplash

Boating Laws in Ohio and Alcohol Use

The boat operator/kayaker with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more is considered intoxicated and operating under the influence (OUI).

If you refuse to comply with a law enforcement officer when asked for an alcohol breath test, that’s an offense also. The penalties come with hefty fines and can also result in boating bans.

Bottom Line

Knowing how to register a kayak in Ohio is crucial – especially if you want to avoid hefty fines or boating bans. The act of registering your boat or kayak is easy once you know where to go.

When you kayak in Ohio, you can explore many waterways and lakes. To make sure that everything goes smoothly, the kayak must be registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

However, if you’re only planning on being in Ohio for vacation or a kayaking competition, you don’t need to worry about registering your vessel – so long as you’re not in Ohio for longer than 60 days.

When registering your personal watercraft, make sure you know the type of boat you’re registering. This will ensure that you’re acquiring the boat registration for the correct vessel the first time around.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you learn more about the kayaking registration rules in Ohio that must be followed.

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